Your 10 AM applicant showed up with his mom. When you emailed the offer package, his dad responded with additional questions. In a follow-up call, he told you he would check with his parents and get back to you.
You might be working with helicopter parents.
Helicopter parents are involved in every aspect of a child’s life. Whether they know it or not, they are sabotaging their child’s success. Children of helicopter parents have higher levels of depression and anxiety, increased dependence, diminished decision-making skills, inadequate coping skills, and generally have lower self-esteem.
This doesn’t mean helicopter parents are bad people. In fact, most helicopter parents truly believe they are helping. Their desire is to give their children every advantage life has to offer. However, failures and challenges help kids grow, learn new skills, and gain confidence.
If you’re a teacher, recruiter, or hiring manager, understanding how to work with helicopter parents is becoming more essential. Use these 5 tactics when working with helicopter parents.
- Let the parent be the expert. Acknowledge parents for knowing their child best. Ask them to be a team-player. Be specific when requesting information. Use parents as a valuable resource.
If you’re a hiring manager or recruiter, consider sending the same recruitment package to the parents. It is likely the parents will have an impact on whether or not your recruit takes the job.
- Establish boundaries. Let parents know when and how to contact you. Your time is valuable, and interruptions are not only distracting, but diminish your ability to do your job.
Let the parents know which appointments or interviews they can attend, and explain why certain appointments must be between you and your student or client.
- Clearly communicate. Clearly communicating means putting it in writing. This can be as simple or detailed as you’d like. A syllabus that clearly delineates what is expected of your students, consequences of missed assignments, extra credit, and office hours works as a great reference when helicopter parents start hovering.
Add specific language to your job postings including that compensation and benefits information is discussed with the applicant only. As surprising as it may seem, you may consider a clause prohibiting parents from sitting in on job interviews.
- Avoid becoming defensive. Being defensive sends the message that the parents have something to be concerned about. Keep your cool. Take a deep breath before you speak. Put yourself in the parent’s shoes. Be empathetic. Remind the parents of the established boundaries. Offer a better time to get together to discuss their concerns – but do not say “after you’ve cooled down a bit.”
If parents come to job fairs to submit resumes on behalf of their son or daughter, let them know that their child will likely make a more favorable impression if they submit their resume on their own.
- Nurture independence. Support and empower your student or recruit. When parents show up with questions on behalf of their son or daughter, ask them to send their child instead of simply answering the questions. This creates independence and builds life skills that cannot be taught from a textbook.
These are just simple guidelines to help you work with helicopter parents. Above all, be diplomatic, remain polite, and, most importantly, keep a level head. In today’s age of social media, a negative review is a few keystrokes away – regardless whether or not it is a legitimate reason.